Moving from a house to a boat is not easy, but it IS extremely rewarding. Never again do we have to clean a garage, dust endless shelves of knick knacks or empty the dishwasher. Life has become completely simplified! We are big fans of Joshua Becker’s blog ‘Becoming Minimalist‘ -all about living simply. His website and his books were both very helpful in the big downsize. We went from an 1,100 square foot house, plus a huge 2-car garage to a 40 foot boat. With a beam (width at it’s widest point) of 13’6″, our boat offers us about 300 square feet of living space. This is a difference of 800 square feet, which means there was a LOT of stuff that had to go. We had accumulated a lot of stuff during our 10 years of living on land!
We had about 2.5 months to minimize our possessions down to a reasonable amount for our big move. Essentially, we had to go through every single item, room by room and decide one of four things: Toss, Donate, Sell or Keep. If you are like us, you may also throw in a category I like to call “I’m not ready to decide on that yet” and revisit it later 😉 Here’s a bit of info for you on how we handled each of these categories:
If an item was damaged or unusable in any way, it was tossed in the garbage. With our family being very environmentally aware, we tried to minimize the amount of items we put into this category. If items could be recycled in any way, we put them in our City recycling bin or dropped them off at the local facility (ie. old electronics and cell phones should not go in the garbage but taken to a recycling depot to be disposed of appropriately.)
This category was huge for us. We had a lot of items that we knew could be used again, but weren’t worth the hassle of selling, which requires a lot more work! We scheduled weekly pickups by Big Brothers to pick up items that we’d boxed and bagged up for them. We dropped items off in between pickups at those handy drop off bins that are conveniently placed throughout the town (there was one 2 blocks away for us!) We also took a large lot of doggy items to our local no-kill animal shelter, which were graciously accepted. Donating your items not only allows you to minimize your possessions, it also makes you feel good 😉
This is the most time-consuming category by far. Once you have made the decision to sell an item, you have to decide HOW you will sell it. Luckily, there are a lot of fantastic online options these days. We did not have time (nor the patience!) to organize a garage sale, so everything was sold online. We used Facebook local bidding pages, Varage Sale and Craig’s List. We also took a large amount of books in to the local used bookshop in trade for cash. We found Facebook bidding pages to be the most effective for clothing, shoes and purses (yes, there were a LOT!). Varage sale was the most effective for kids items and electronics (We sold our desktop Mac computer in 1 minute!) and Craig’s List was the most effective for larger items like furniture. Then you have to coordinate pick-up of each and every item. We were selling so many items, that typically each ‘buyer’ was picking up multiple items when they came by. The doorbell was ringing off the hook with back-to-back pickups throughout the day and night, trying to purge everything and give us some cash for our cruising kitty as well.
When deciding what to keep, it was ideal to ask ourselves “Do I used this item?”, “Do I have space for this item?” and “Would this item be useful on a boat?”. Items in your ‘keep’ pile will no doubt end up in either the donate pile or the sell pile…. but still good to start out with this mentality. This is a difficult category when you’ve got children, as they will typically want to keep everything. Luckily, Carson was very understanding and is not attached to his stuff at all. The tough one for him was selling our old boat actually! One thing with Carson was that he had a huge bookshelf in his room that was overflowing with books. We sold, donate and gave a way the vast majority of them in favour of buying a Kobo eReader and loading it up with tons of books (including some of the favourites that we sold). This has proved to be a fantastic choice and we get Kobo versions of books whenever possible.
When we finally moved onto Bloom, we had three 3’x4′ storage lockers at the marina that we rented. Within 6 months, we did the 4-category analysis above and handed in the keys for them. What a liberating feeling it is to have all of our worldly possessions on board with us. No more storage lockers! We do have one bin of items that are irreplaceable (special mementos and photographs) in storage at Jason’s Mum’s place, so that there is no possibility of water damage.
Once you move on board, the process continues as you realize what you don’t need, don’t wear, don’t use, etc. Your priorities will no doubt change after you have been living aboard for a while. This is totally fine. We recommend doing all of this in baby steps. You can’t possibly know when you are in a house still, what you will no longer need several months into living on your boat.
There is so much freedom to this simple way of life and we feel like we are no longer owned by our things. Highly recommended and best of luck to any of you out there that are making this huge leap! It’s a fun one!!!